Ewww! Poop in swimming pools is a big problem – and getting bigger, according to a federal public health agency.
Outbreaks of parasitic infection associated with fecal material in pools are increasing, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The parasite Cryptosporidium (usually shortened to “Crypto”) can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with feces (or poop) of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea.
Gulping just a mouthful of Crypto-tainted water can make you sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting.
Gulping just a mouthful of Crypto-tainted water can make you sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
According to the CDC, at least 32 outbreaks of the infection linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds were reported in 2016, compared to 16 outbreaks in the United States in 2014.
In Fresno County, there were 10 cases in 2016; 13 in 2015 and seven cases in 2014, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health. So far in 2017, there have been four cases. A case is different from an outbreak. The county had individual cases with no outbreaks.
The parasite is hard to kill once it contaminates a swimming pool. It’s able to survive up to 10 days in water properly treated with chlorine, the CDC says.
The message here, says Stephanie Kahl, supervising environmental health specialist for Fresno County, is no one with diarrhea should swim. And parents should not allow children who are ill to swim or play in the pool.
Kahl said people should shower before using a public pool. And don’t change a baby’s diaper poolside.
Any body of water can be a concern, whether it’s your public pool or your private pool or a lake or a river or stream, she said. “Someone with a diarrheal illness and they go swimming … that’s where you can have issues with your own swimming pool.”
As for peeing in the pool. That’s not cool, either, Kahl said. “It certainly isn’t sanitary and you don’t want it to happen, but chlorine will take care of that.”